British Insurer Sending Call Center to India

British insurance firm Prudential PLC will cut 850 workers in the United Kingdom, 11 percent of its work force there, and move the positions to a planned call center in India, the company said this week.

The cuts will occur over the next two years at Prudential's call center in the city of Reading in southern England. The cuts will reduce the center's staff to 1,400 workers.

Prudential is unrelated to the U.S.-based financial services firm of the same name.

The new Indian call center in Bombay will be operational by the end of 2004. The move is expected to save the company $25 million annually starting in 2006.

Last month, the British Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers, which represents UK call center workers, threatened to strike in reaction to an experimental program by Reality, a subsidiary of Great Universal Stores, to use 50 call center workers in the Indian city of Bangalore. The strike was averted when Reality signed a deal limiting the company's transfer of positions overseas through 2005 and committing Reality to future UK job growth.

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